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Timelapse: 3 decades of photo imagery of the world

What it is:  Timelapse is an incredible visual satellite timeline powered by Google.  Timelapse is about as close as you can get to a time machine, if that time machine hovered above the earth and gave you a bird’s eye view of development and change. Students can choose from some highlighted...

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Summer Learning: reading, creativity apps, serving with kids

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Character Education, education reform, inspiration, Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Websites | Posted on 27-06-2014

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If you are an educator, you are aware of the dreaded “summer slide.” Summer break is a much-needed change of pace for educators, but unfortunately it can mean two months without any reading, learning, exploring, etc. For some kids, summer means hours spent in front of the TV, outside play (which is happy!), or hours spent trying to beat the next level of Flappy Bird. Many parents feel ill-equipped, or at a loss for how to keep their kids learning over the summer.

I created the following publication, “a thing or two,” for Anastasis families. I thought that you all might enjoy it as well! Please feel free to pass this on to your own students and families. In this issue there are ideas for summer reading, a review of my favorite 3 creativity apps, and service learning ideas for the summer.

 

Happy Learning!

Sorting Through the Common Core (more to the story than Facebook)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, education reform, inspiration, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 26-06-2014

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In the past few months, “Common Core” has become a hot button issue for parents, educators, news media, and celebrities alike. Facebook feeds have been flooded with absurd worksheets, kids homework, and disparaging remarks about how the “Common Core” will ruin us all. The problem is, the “Common Core” really refers to two things. One is the standards and the other is curriculum. The two aren’t mutually exclusive, but are being used interchangeably as if they are one and the same.

In recent months, I’ve had parents ask for clarification about what the Common Core is. They want to be reassured that their kids aren’t anywhere near the absurdity that they are seeing online, in the news, or in the new Common Core documentary. Because there has been so much confusion, I created the video above to help explain what the “Common Core” is. I tried to keep it short so that it was manageable to watch without getting lost in the details and losing interest. I recognize that there is a LOT more to this topic than what I laid out. My goal with the video above was to help others understand what the “Common Core” is and what it isn’t.

Common Core Standards are different from Common Core Curriculum. As I said before, the two are not the same. The problem is that news media outlets, Facebook feeds, and celebrities use “Common Core” to describe both the standards and the curriculum. Sometimes they even mistakenly refer to the curriculum as Common Core Standards.

The standards are the United States attempt at bringing more continuity to learning foundations for kindergarten through twelfth grade students throughout the states. They are intended to ensure that all students receive the same base skills to build on in English Language Arts and Math. Most of the United States has adopted these standards and is making adjustments to accommodate the new standards. In the past, individual states each had state created standards. This led to a lot of disparity between the states about what was learned and at what stage it was learned. The result was a chasm between what students in one state learned that a neighboring state had not.

The standards were developed in partnership by a group made up of governors, chief state school officers, education groups, and corporations and foundations. The funding for the development of the standards came from the federal government (part of Race to the Top money) and the corporations/foundations involved. In the video, I show a Common Core Standards “family tree” that breaks this down a bit more. While I don’t love the idea of corporations funding the standards, I recognize that the money to make them happen had to come from somewhere. I wish that the “somewhere” wasn’t tied so closely with the publishing companies who make curriculum. I also noticed that the educational groups were labeled as “advisory.” It seems to me that the government agencies and the corporations/foundations should have been “advisory” and the educational group should have been the chief designers. Because I wasn’t right in the middle of the creation, I can only speculate how this went and hope that it was a true partnership where educators had a large hand in the outcome. Included in the creation were: Achieve (which includes Alcoa, Exxon Mobile, Microsoft), Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the National Govenors Association, Council of Chief School Officers, David Coleman, Sue Pimentel, and Jason Zimba (who sold an educational startup to McGraw Hill), the National Education Foundation, America Federation of Teachers, National Council of English Teachers, and National Council of Math Teachers.

Standards are not a bad thing. They give a baseline and frame of reference to work within. As an educator, I see the importance of having a baseline of foundational skills that we can count on. The standards are written very generally. They are just over 60 pages long (k-12) and when you read through them you will see, they are pretty underwhelming. I like the generality of the standards, they leave schools and teachers open to using a wide variety of methodologies and resources to ensure that students get those foundational skills. They aren’t prescriptive of HOW to teach, they are just a guideline of what should be taught. Do I agree on the every single standard being totally necessary for every single child? No. But I do recognize the value in a society having a common set of baseline skills, the standards are a good beginning for that. One of the biggest problems I do have with the standards is the language used. If these goals are intended for students, shouldn’t they be written in student-friendly language that is easy to understand? Instead they are full of eduspeak and jargon. That should change!

I’m sure you’ve seen these floating around (and more like it):

Common core math problem Common Core

 

This is Common Core Curriculum. The writers of the Common Core Standards do not endorse any curriculum. Anyone can label the curriculum “Common Core Aligned.” ANYONE. This curriculum is designed by publishers. The alignment to the Common Core Standards is a way for publishers to sell more. Publishers know that in the frenzy of states adopting Common Core Standards, there will be an urgency to get schools and students on the same page quickly (after all…testing). They also know that if they stamp “Common Core aligned” on their curricula, schools are more likely to purchase it so that their students are ready for the testing that is sure to follow. Here is the problem, publishers design curriculum to make money. I’ll go out on a limb and say that the money overshadows what is best for kids. The other problem: the same people who write the curriculum, write the tests. This forces a school’s hand to purchase the curriculum so that their kids can pass the tests (which is then incentivized by programs like RTTT). When they don’t pass the tests, the publishing companies conveniently come to the rescue with the latest and greatest new curriculum. The cycle repeats. This is not a new cycle within education, but it is one that is becoming more and more transparent. In 2012 Pearson, the largest publisher of curriculum, developed Common Core Standards tests.

The adoption of Common Core Standards does not require districts and states to collect more data. Unfortunately, the Race to the Top initiative incentivized the collection of more data. You see where this all starts to get really messy. Race to the Top also paid out $350 million to create computerized testing to more efficiently collect data on students. The downfall is that there are many, many schools across the United States who aren’t even well enough equipped with technology to give these tests.

Standards are not evil, but when coupled by unreasonable expectations of a one-size-fits-all system, they can be disastrous.

We use standards at Anastasis Academy, they are a framework that we can build on to ensure that our students are getting foundational skills that will carry them on in their learning. Instead of using boxed-curriculum, we approach the standards through the lens of inquiry, and build our own learning experiences based on the individual needs of every single student. Is it the most efficient it could be? No. But we are dealing with humanity, not widgets. This approach uses the standards in a way that truly does make them the floor and not the ceiling. They are a starting point, but they don’t restrict us. We choose not to use any of the “Common Core aligned” boxed curriculum. The one-size-fits-all isn’t what we want for our students. It doesn’t take into account the individuals that we teach. We choose not to give our students piles of worksheets, but instead give them learning opportunities that engage them as learners and leaders. Our goal is to apprentice our students in the art of learning. This is a very different goal than simply trying to get them through the textbook each year!

I encourage you to read through the Common Core Standards for yourself. You will quickly get an idea of how general they really are. When you see the popup of the Common Core, ask yourself if it is one of those standards that is the problem, or if it is the curriculum that is being used. If you are a parent, I encourage you to get involved with your school. Ask what curriculum is being used and why. Don’t feel bound by the tests (they are a poor measure of who your child is anyway). Encourage your school to look at ways that they can meet standards without being bound to curriculum. When those Facebook posts popup, speak out about the problem with better specifics “this curriculum is ridiculous, where is the real learning experience?!”

If you are a teacher, I get it-sometimes you don’t get to make the choice. If you have wiggle room and aren’t using a completely scripted curriculum, take advantage of it! Connect with other educators who are doing things differently. Look for ways that you can build foundational skills that aren’t tied endless worksheets and practice drills for the next test. Help your kids fall in love with learning. Be transparent, show them why you are passionate about learning.

Library for All Six Degrees of Education

Posted by admin | Posted in education reform, Grade Level, inspiration, Language Arts, Teacher Resources | Posted on 24-06-2014

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I greatly appreciate people who recognize a problem and work in new, innovative ways to solve it. Today I learned about Library for All, who has just launched a truly innovative campaign to eradicate illiteracy in the developing world. The campaign is called Six Degrees of Education. Library for All is building on the theory of “six degrees of separation” to reach some key donors and influencers, such as George Lucas and Queen Rania. People who can help achieve the mission of providing access to books for millions of children in developing countries through the Library for all digital library.

Check out the Six Degrees of Education Library For All page and let’s see how our six degrees of separation can help spread literacy virally! Share on social media sites, when you are chatting with friends, or networking at a conference. According to the the six degrees of separation, if everyone who read this blog participated, we could help Library for All reach this goal in no time!

I relish the summer time because it provides me the opportunity to read, learn, and read some more. Everyone should know that gift! We can help, join me in spreading the word about Library for All’s Six Degrees of Education Campaign!

Pixel Press Floors: draw a video game on paper, snap a picture and play it!

Posted by admin | Posted in Art, Create, Foreign Language, Fun & Games, Geography, Government, History, iPod, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Math, Middle/High School, Phonics, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-06-2014

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What it is: Pixel Press Floors is a seriously magical (currently free) app that brings a child’s imagination to life. With the Pixel Press Floors creation platform, students can literally dream up and draw their own video game without any coding. Students draw their ideas out on paper, and the Floors app turns the drawing into an actual video game that can be played. Print out the special paper so that the app can recognize the shapes “glyphs” that are drawn, or use the in app drawing tools. The drawing is instantly turned into a game that can be tested, designed, played, and even published to the “Arcade” where others can play it.

How to integrate Pixel Press Floors into learning: The first step of creation is to download the Pixel Press Floors app on the iPad. Next, go to projectpixelpress.com to download and print the free sketch guide. Students draw up the game of their dreams and then take a picture of what they drew from the Pixel Press Floors app.

The glyphs (shapes) that students draw are magically transformed into game play objects. After glyphs have been created, students can apply a design to the element, test it, and play it. Within the app, students can create games with:

  • Run and jump game play (Mario-style)
  • Create with 14 creator glyphs: terrain, moving blocks, ladders, portals, monkey bars, power-ups, coins, super coins, falling blocks, spikes, exploding blocks, start and end positions, pits and fireballs, keys.
  • Two original themes to get the creativity jump-started: “Save the Parents” and “Fiddleheads: Stones of Eden”
  • Publishing and sharing in the Arcade

Pixel Press Floors is a fantastic “maker space” element to add to your classroom. This app is perfect for prototyping ideas, design thinking (ideation and prototyping), teamwork and collaboration, and to build creativity. In designing games, students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, art and aesthetics, writing and storytelling, and creates a motivation for further STEM exploration.

There is so much to learn from digital games.  As a player, students learn to think strategically, persist through failure and experience epic wins that can translate to what they do and are willing to try out in real life. As a designer students learn systems thinking, creative problem solving, digital art and aesthetics, and storytelling and writing. Students love being able to bring their creations and ideas to life in the form of a game. Video game creation could be the key to unlocking the storytelling genius in your reluctant writers. It has been my experience that a student faced with a blank paper and a writing assignment can be daunting. Introduce the idea of designing their own game and suddenly a storyline pours forth. It is pretty neat to watch!

Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary! Draw your own video games- no coding necessary!

Students can create games that help them build skills. Instead of simply playing those drill/skill games on other websites/apps, they can create their own! This is visual notes 3.0. Instead of simply practicing math facts, students can create a customized game to help them learn and remember those facts! This type of game is perfect for creating games to practice: math facts, spelling, vocabulary, foreign languages, letter recognition, geography, history facts, etc.

Instead of passively playing games in their free time, students can create their own! The blend of the hand-drawn and technology is seamless and brilliant. Kids will have such fun creating their own games and bringing their imagination to life.

Tips: Game Star Mechanic would be an outstanding place to start, here kids can learn the thinking process behind designing their own video games.

Are you using Pixel Press Floors in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Wait-don’t you get summer off? (A job that doesn’t feel like a job)

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, General, inspiration, professional development, Teacher Resources | Posted on 17-06-2014

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Being an educator is a FULL time job. Nights, weekends, and everything in between seems to be fair game. It isn’t always assigned work. Education is more than a career, it is a worldview. You see everything through the eyes of an educator and are constantly dreaming of how that non-educational thing you saw could relate to something you are doing in the classroom. It’s the sparks of…maybe-THAT-would-work, that occur in the shower. Not to mention the dreams! We’ve been on summer break for 3 weeks and every single night I’ve dreamt about school or students.

This is just one of the reasons that educators find it laughable when someone mentions how nice it must be to get out of work in the afternoon and have summers off. None of those things have ever happened. They are a rarity. Ask my husband about what a summer off looks like! “Seriously, you work more hours during the summer than the school year.” I love the summer time. I love that it makes my schedule more flexible, makes it possible to use the bathroom whenever I want (teachers understand the luxury of this!), go to the grocery store in the middle of the day when they put out the fresh produce and you don’t have to pick through the left over sad and bruised produce.  I love that I can sit and dream up curriculum and lesson plans at Starbucks and come home to read a new edubook in the sunshine. Happy!

I’ve never felt the need to get an additional summer time job. I appreciate the flexible days and I need the time to breathe. This year that changed. I found something that allows me to be flexible, own my own business, and make some great extra money on the side. The best part is that when the school year kicks back into gear, I don’t have to give it up and it still makes mail money (that’s the money that just shows up in your PayPal account, it’s pretty much the best kind of money!) You can do this, too! But first, a story.

There is something about being in your 30s that flips a switch. You’ve finally nailed your skin-care routine and things are mostly balanced and easy. Just when you think you’ve finally got the skin figured out, 30 comes along and is like, “don’t you think a few little wrinkles would make us look distinguished? Sun Spots, you come too!” This is particularly annoying because 30 also insists on trying to hold on to youth and includes breakouts the likes of which haven’t been seen since 13. I mean really?! The emergence of sun spots, wrinkles, WITH breakouts. Not fair at all. I think I could have handled any one of these issues, but throw in all 3 and I have NO idea how to deal. The sun spots creeping in are supremely frustrating, because I’m the queen of dutifully applying sunscreen as part of my daily routine since the age of 10. I mean sun spots? I did all the right things to keep those puppies from ever existing.

I have always been a sucker for the newest miracle cream in drugstores and magazines. Sort of a, “Well, she looks amazing, this must be the fountain of youth!” I’m kind of a beauty store product junkie. “This time, this will be the one! I think as I pour over the directions of exactly how to use it (because heaven forbid I put the cream on wrong and THAT is the reason it doesn’t work). I’ve found a few standbys over the years, but I wouldn’t say that they did a great job of living up to their promises. They are more like that old robe that you keep around because it’s kind of comfortable and has just always been fine.

I started a school 4 years ago, about this time of year. I’m one of those dreaded millennials, the one who doesn’t really fit Gen-X or millennial neatly, and believes they can totally change the world, and wonders why everyone else is just sitting around doing what has always been done. Cut to 4 years later and INTO my 30s and suddenly it makes sense why not everyone is trailblazing like there’s no tomorrow: it’s hard. It sucks every ounce of time and energy. The shiny veneer of changing the world starts to wear off when ANOTHER email pings in (a good day is less than 900…email is from the devil). Then you start to wonder if the fatigue you see in your face isn’t really about 30, maybe it is all the other stuff aging me. I definitely blame email.

Then I found it (or rather, it found me), the miracle answer that takes care of all three of 30’s “gifts” and gives me back the manageable skin of 25. A teacher friend of mine has been telling me about Rodan and Fields for years. I paid little attention until her Facebook feed started filling up with before and after pictures of people I actually knew. Holy smokes!! Dramatic differences. They looked rested. I was half convinced that they had somehow found an extra 8 hours in the day to get a good night sleep. Then I started seeing the posts about matching her teaching income as a consultant. Then I started seeing Rodan and Fields products pop up in the beauty magazines I flipped through while getting my hair done. These weren’t ads, but beauty editors touting R+F products as the favorite. My friend and I met up for coffee so that I could beg her to be our long-term sub solution. I hadn’t seen her in person since I started Anastasis Academy, and was excited to catch up. She looks AMAZING. She was always stunning but her skin looked younger than it did the last time I saw her. Glowy, gorgeous, and makeup free. As I was leaving, she handed me a little pack of goodies to try. Rodan+Fields Summer job!

SOLD. The pack of goodies turned out to be the Micro Dermabrasion Paste which polishes skin with a sugar-salt scrub with vitamins C and E, a “magic” blue pill (Redefine) night serum, and a “magic” grey pill (Redefine) lip serum. Holy smokes, my face hasn’t felt like that since I was 2 or 3 years old! Honestly, the results were immediate in the way that my skin looked and felt. Some of my glowy came back. The next day I messaged my friend and told her that I needed to order this miracle to have on hand. She graciously gave me the link to purchase but followed with a, “you know, if you are a consultant you get 25% off.”

I run a school. I honestly have NO extra minutes in my life to add anything else. Initially, I told her no. I do not have time for one more thing and I assumed that being a consultant meant that I had to sell a minimum each month for the discount or had to carry product. My assumption was wrong. There is no minimum monthly orders, there is no product to carry. To become a consultant, you purchase the product you are already planning on purchasing and fill out the form to be a consultant. There was no catch. Honestly, you can start a business for as little as $45 (depending on what products you want to order). I’ve been enjoying my vastly improved, evened out skin, and have the added bonus of 25% off for two months now. These skincare products are designed by two of the most respected dermatologists in the country with a legacy of delivering on what they promise. Using these products is about as close as you can get to visiting a dermatologist without an appointment. It truly can change your skin (and even comes with a 60 day money back guarantee…always a good bet).

R+F skin selfie

Selfies are awkward, and this one is no exception! But you will notice the even skin happening.

The thing about good products is that you tend to talk about them. Obviously, I’m someone who naturally shares the things I find and love (this whole blog is based on that premise!) When people ask if I’ve gotten extra sleep, I tell them about Rodan and Fields. When people ask what I use, or lament about a skin care problem they are having, I naturally want to share my find. The bonus, if they try it, I get that mail money I mentioned above. You know what kind of email I don’t mind? The kind that pings in and tells me that money has been transferred to my PayPal account.

The unexpected bonus that came with being a Rodan and Fields consultant: I get access to a whole library packed full of business advice, brand equity, marketing ideas, business presentations, templates, training, etc. Because my worldview is education, I think about how I could apply some of these tools to my school. How could this kind of communication better help me communicate with parents? How could I use this idea to build a lesson in finances? How could I use a similar method to help students set and meet goals? I had no idea that this would be such a treasure trove of new approaches to teaching/learning! A happy bonus.

My friend started her Rodan and Fields business just a few years ago. In that time she has matched and surpassed her teaching income, she has travelled the country on business trips, and she has earned a Lexus. It is inspiring! Her goal at the time was to raise a little extra spending money for her growing family. She has met that goal and then some! My goal began very simply: prolong the even-tempered skin of my 20s. After being on the “inside” and seeing success stories of my friends and new friends, my new goal is to help other educators make some mail money and to use my own mail money to help fund projects that I am wildly passionate about (The Learning Genome Project). It doesn’t feel like extra work because I only talk about R+F as it naturally comes up in conversation. I buy what I need (it lasts way longer than the beauty store brands that I had been using), and don’t think about it until I have time or want to put energy into it. I’m not punished when I’m swamped with school and can’t think about it, and I have an incredible support system of others when I want to put energy into it.

So, if you are looking for a summer job (that doesn’t feel anything like a job), want to keep your skin looking and feeling amazing, and want to start something now that could impact the rest of your year: Rodan and Fields is worth a serious look.

Perfect Summer Job for Teachers!

If you are interested in learning more about the product, click here for  your free consultation to find out what products are best for your skin. 

Start your own business with R+F

If you are interested in learning more about starting your own business, leave contact information in the comments below, or you can email me directly through my contact form. Currently this opportunity is only available to those in the US and Canada. (Sorry my overseas friends…soon!)

I get paid to wash my face and talk about it! R+F

If you have questions, I’ll be happy to answer them.

Happy Summer!

 

 

Hooda Math: math fact practice that feels like fun

Posted by admin | Posted in Fun & Games, Knowledge (remember), Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Secondary Elementary, Websites | Posted on 09-06-2014

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Hooda Math: Practice math facts and have fun

Flappy factors: learn math playing games

What it is:  Hooda Math is a fantastic collection of math games that give students the opportunity for math fact practice while having fun. The games are based on other addicting games like Flappy Birds and 2048. Instead of just playing the games to see how far they can get, students also get some built-in fact practice. For example, in Flappy Factors, students maneuver a bird through a maze of pipes. Each pipe has an integer on it, students must fly through the correct factor of a target multiple that is given. Students must avoid the pipe with the incorrect integer. As students advance through the game, a progress report is generated that can be emailed to a teacher or a parent. The Hooda Math site has been created for a variety of platforms…perfect for a BYOD classroom!

How to use Hooda Math in your classroom: Hooda Math is organized by category types: Mobile games, Shopkeeper games, Geometry games, Logic games, Number games, Physics Games, Growing games, Building games, and Escape games. The games can also be organized by grade level, subject, or category. There are over 500 games in all, ensuring something for everyone in kindergarten through high school.

Students at Anastasis LOVE mobile games. When Flappy Birds came out, they were often spending hours (truly!) playing these games in their free time. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice math facts and skills while they are playing. Math becomes significantly less challenging when facts become second nature. Hooda Math games are a great way for students to practice their math facts without hours of flash cards. Math practice becomes fun and the challenge is not just in figuring out the trick to the game, it is also unlocking the building blocks of math.

When I taught a computer class, I often had students lament that they would NEVER be able to learn to touch type. I often asked these students, “do you play video games? Do you have to look at the controller when you play to see what to press next?” They always answered, “No! I would lose if I had to look at the controller.” I would follow-up by asking them how they memorized what to do to the controller to win. Light. Bulb. Moment. The same is true for these math games. Students can play these games like they would other popular games, if they know their math facts, they are more likely to “live” longer and win the game.

I learned my math facts when my third grade teacher made up rhymes and a Chinese jumprope game where you had to know your facts to stay “in.” We learned our multiplication tables in no time! (If anyone knows this game, I would LOVE to remember how to play it, leave the link/directions in a comment below.) I suspect that Hooda Math games could have the same outcomes for your students. When the facts are the key to winning, there is a different motivation to know them (beyond just completing the worksheet/test).

In a one to one device environment, students can play the games that build skills where they need them. Students can play at their own level. In the one or two computer classroom, use Hooda Math as a math center rotation. Students can travel from center to center in small groups and take turns playing the games that meet their individual needs.

Be sure to pass on Hooda Math to your student’s families. It is a great way to practice at home and over summer break.

Tips: Don’t forget to have your students send you the progress report at the end. This helps you keep track of their progress without the need for worksheets.

Are you using Hooda Math in your classroom? Leave a comment below and share the ways that you use it with students!

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Words of Wisdom for Memorial Day

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, inspiration, Middle/High School, Teacher Resources, video | Posted on 26-05-2014

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Happy Memorial Day!

Last week, I came across an awesome graduation video from the University of Texas that Kevin Jarrett shared. I love the 10 steps that were shared by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven,to become a change maker. I edited the video down a bit (for our time purposes) and added an animated component. I’m excited to share this video with our students during the 8th grade graduation ceremony.

This video has fantastic words of wisdom for the end of the year, but would also be a great one to share at the beginning of the school year!

 

Sphero: the coolest robot around

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Anastasis Academy, Apply, Evaluate, iPod, Math, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Teacher Resources, Technology, Understand (describe, explain) | Posted on 14-04-2014

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Sphero- coolest robot ever

This week, the wonderful people at Orbotix sent me a Sphero to try out and play with. HOLY COW, I haven’t had so much fun with a new toy in a long time. The better part of today was spent learning about the Sphero and stealthily “driving” it into classrooms (much to the delight of kids). Sphero is a robotic ball that gets controlled by iPhone, iPad, or android device. I had it rolling all over school this morning…I only wish I had thought ahead to record student reactions (I was using my iPhone to control it and didn’t think about video and pictures). I had so much fun with it, that I brought it home to play and learn some more. It is equally loved by my dogs! ;)

Sphero seems like a simple concept, a ball that can be controlled via tablet or phone. Even though the concept is simple, I have to admit, I’m pretty floored by the way that this little ball moves around effortlessly as if by magic. We have a hallway in our school that includes an incline and it rolled up it without any trouble, like a champ! It is SO much more than a fun rolley ball. There are a slew of apps that interact with the Sphero making it ultra fun and educational. The majority of apps available are totally free to download. There are a few that cost $0.99. Apps include:

  • Sphero Nyan Cat Space Party- Even if you have no idea what Nyan cat is, your students will. They will think it is awesome.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode One- A labyrinth game for the 21st century.
  • Sphero Dark Nebula Episode Two- Defeat obstacles and enemies using your Sphero.
  • Sphero- the app I played with all day. This app drives Sphero and teaches it (and you) new tricks with basics of coding.
  • GoGo Mongo- Designed to teach toddlers and primary students healthy eating habits.
  • Sphero Exile- Arcade-like space-fighter game. But with real life actions!
  • Sphero Draw N’ Drive- Use your finger on the tablet or phone to draw a shape or path and watch Sphero follow it.
  • Sphero MacroLab (great for education!)- Learn basics of programming by arranging simple commands and settings in any combination. Save favorite programs and share them with friends.
  • Sphero TAG- A great tag game when you have access to more than one Sphero.
  • Zombie Roller- A zombie app. Need I say more?
  • Sphero Lights- Basically the coolest night-light ever. Keep the Sphero lit even when charging.
  • Last Fish- Try surviving as a fish in toxic water filled with goo and shadow fish. The goal: survive.
  • Sphero Macro Draw- Draw using your Sphero robot.
  • DJ Sphero- Go ahead and be a party rock star with Sphero. Load tracks from your iPad/iPhone music library . Cross fade between songs and speed up or slow down music by spinning your sphere robot. Basically you will be the star of the lunch room.
  • Astro Ball- An arcade-syle 3D flight simulator.
  • Sphero Golf- I played this one as soon as I got home. Create a physical golf course and then virtually control Sphero to make it into the holes that you create. Hit Sphero with either a flick of the finger, or (for more fun) by swinging your arms while holding your tablet/phone.
  • Sphero Cam- Currently Android only. Use the built-in camera on Android to record video with Sphero.
  • orbBasic for Sphero- This is a great app for learning and practicing program. Students can execute basic programs and create and prototype autonomous behaviors for their Sphero robot.
  • Sphero H2O- For real, this robot can be played with IN water!! This is a game for a summer pool party.
  • Etch-o-matic- 21st century toy makes drawings like it is 1965. LOVE this app! Brings me right back to about 1987 when I sat in the back seat of the Jetta on the way to Grandmas. Just like an etch-a-sketch, only better.
  • Sphero Snake- Classic Snake game brought to life.
  • Disc Groove- Control your Sphero to avoid being hit by “flying meteors”
  • Doodle Grub- A new twist on the classic Snake game. Lots of fun.
  • Sphero Pet- Wishing you had a class pet? Sphero fits the bill well without being overwhelming. Kids can teach it to shake, flip and move in any direction.
  • Pass the Sphero- A game of dare for multiple players where Sphero becomes a ticking time-bomb. Lots of fun when there is lots of snow and recess has to occur inside.
  • Sphero Measuring Tape (AWESOME, measuring our Anastasis Academy garden!) Virtual measuring tape. Amazingly accurate. Our kids have been learning Area/Perimeter and using the Anastasis Academy garden as a learning space. Sphero helped verify their calculations.
  • Sharky the Beaver- Sphero turns into an augmented reality beaver that you can interact with.
  • Sphero ColorGrab- A multiplayer tabletop game. Sphero flashes colors and you have to pick him up at the right time to earn points. Best indoor recess ever!
  • Sphero Chromo- Like an old-school Simon game for this little robot. Makes me a little nostalgic for my childhood. :)
  • The Rolling Dead- an augmented reality game featuring zombies. Not sure how it gets better than using Sphero as a fireball to shoot virtual zombies. Anastasis Academy backs to a cemetery where the teachers walk/jog after school. I’m pretty sure the Rolling Dead/Sphero combo will be a welcome addition to our exercise.

The Sphero apps the are available to download range from just plain fun, to serious learning capability and augmented reality. There are so many possibilities with this little robot and, it seems, that the apps and abilities of this little robot will only continue to grow. This robot is resilient. It can stand up to dogs, water, outdoors, hills, etc. Truly so magical and amazing!

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

Shiba Inu playing with Sphero Robot

I dig technology that effortlessly blends real world with imagination and technology. Sphero definitely fits this bill in ways that I haven’t seen before. I’m excited to dig into Sphero Education to try out the STEM lessons that can be used with Sphero with students. I’ll be sure to blog our progress through them! Stay tuned.

 

Google Story Builder: Create a video story Google style

Posted by admin | Posted in Analyze, Create, Evaluate, Foreign Language, Government, History, inspiration, Interactive book, Interactive Whiteboard, Knowledge (remember), Language Arts, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, Science, Secondary Elementary, Social Studies, Spelling, Subject, Technology, Understand (describe, explain), video, web tools, Websites | Posted on 18-03-2014

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iLearn Technology Google Story Builder- Easily create short video stories

What it is:  I can’t help but love Google’s commercials. They are brilliant in their simplicity and weave together a story beautifully. In the past, Google let you build a story by way of a Google search. Now with Google Story Builder, you can build a video story that looks like it is being typed live between two collaborators in a Google doc. SO very happy! It couldn’t be simpler, any age could create a fantastic little video with this tool! Students create some “characters” for their story. These characters are the Google Doc collaborators. Next, students type text for each collaborator to add to the doc. Finally, students choose music to accompany their video. That is it! When students are finished with their video, they can share it via a weblink.

How to use Google Story Builder in your classroom: Google Story Builder is an outstanding little tool for sharing a story or learning. It allows students to demonstrate learning or understanding in a fun, easy way. A lot of tools can become THE focus of a project. You know how this goes, as soon as you mention that students will be creating a video project all of the learning journey goes out the window and immediately the focus is on the hilarious video they are going to create. The learning can become an after thought. With Google Story Builder, this isn’t the case. The outcome is going to look similar for everyone so the focus is the learning and story. Creativity comes through the story and the music chosen. This is the best kind of creativity, it requires students to know the topic or subject well enough to create a mini parody of it.

Students could use Google Story Builder as a book report. Students can think about major themes or the climax of a story and retell it through the collaboration the story characters in this Google Doc. How awesome would it be to have Romeo and Juliet creating a document together? How about Junie B. Jones and That Jim I Hate? The Little Red Hen asking for collaborators for her latest cooking project?

As students learn about major players in history, they can create a Google Story about those historical figures and their interaction if they had a shared Google Doc. For example students might imagine the writers of the US constitution drafting the constitution as a Google Doc. Or Galileo arguing with the “church” (the story I told in my video).

Students could personify any inanimate object or idea as a character in a Google Story. How about parts of speech arguing which part of speech is the best or should be used in the sentence being typed? Countries of the world telling all about what they are known for? Periods of history as characters? Science ideas (evolution vs. creation)? Math stories including characters like Odd Todd and Even Steven? The possibilities are as varied as your student’s imaginations!

Teachers can create a Google Story to help their kids with inference. Create a story between two characters and ask students to infer about context. What is happening? Do you think the characters are friends or foe? Why? What do you think they are working on together?

Tips: I created the Google Story above as an example. What will you use Google Story Builder for in your classroom?

 

Rodan + Fields Consultant

Tagible-Create Customized Learning Video Channels

Posted by admin | Posted in Anastasis Academy, Classroom Management, collaboration, Create, iPod, Middle/High School, Primary Elementary, professional development, Secondary Elementary, Subject, Teacher Resources, TED Talk Tuesdays, video, Video Tutorials, web tools, Web2.0, Websites | Posted on 17-03-2014

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Tagible- Create customized video channels for your classroom/school

What it is: HOLY SMOKES! This is the coolest new tool! I’ve spent the morning building out our Anastasis Tagible page (link at the bottom of the post), and I feel like my head is spinning with possibilities.

Tagible is a brand new video manager site. It allows you to create a completely customized channel for all of your school/classroom videos. Videos can be imported directly from your YouTube or Vimeo channel. Once you set up the import feature, Tagible automatically imports any video that is added to your channel. Best of all, Tagible gives you the ability to tag videos with categories and then tags within that category; videos and customized channels are really easy to create. The channel that you create is easy to share with anyone through social media or it can be embedded directly on your school/classroom website.

Features:

  • Create a one-stop-shop for ALL of your videos that is completely customizable and branded just for your classroom or school.
  • Tag videos in new ways using categories and sub-tags, this makes it simpler than ever to find exactly the video that you are looking for.
  • Create customized channels based on categories and sub-tags. Each time a new video is added with a category/tag, it gets automatically added to the channel.
  • Embed channels on class or school websites. The embedded channel is ALWAYS up-to-date because all content tagged for that channel gets added automatically. (Set it up once and let Tagible do all the work!)
  • Tag videos under multiple categories and subcategories.
  • Connect your school/classroom YouTube or Vimeo channel to automatically populate your Tagible channel with content.
  • Customize your Tagible site with your own backgrounds, color schemes, and logos. (This is SO easy to use, you can even drag and drop images for your background onto the “upload here” buttons!)
  • Import any video from YouTube or Vimeo (not just your own). Curate video to create a customized channel just for you and your students!
  • Share your videos easily using Twitter, Facebook, and email.

How to use Tagible in your classroom or school: There are all kinds of video management tools, but Tagible is absolutely the most useable and useful for schools! Video is such a rich way to share learning. Our students are constantly uploading video projects. Tagible would make a fantastic video portfolio. Create a “Team” page for your classroom and then create a sub tag for each of your students. As your students upload video to your YouTube channel, tag it in Tagible with the student name. Now each student can have their own “channel” of their learning journey. This becomes a living portfolio that continually gets added to throughout the year (or years). Record student presentations, class participation, special events, etc. Whenever a video gets tagged with that student, it automatically gets added to their channel. You can share a student’s specific channel with their family, now they don’t have to wade through everyone’s video to find their child! If your students have their own blog or website (Weebly.com or Wix.com are awesome for this!) they can embed their channel directly on it. Now all written, photographed, and video work is accessible in one place.

Create learning channels for your students. Import the videos that your students can access to learn from, or be inspired by. Each video can be categorized according to unit and topic. Students can go through a units “channel” to access all learning videos that you recommended for the unit. This is definitely textbook of the future! I’m excited to utilize this idea for our inquiry units. As the students and I find video, we can add it to our own customized learning channel. This channel can then be embedded in student projects, websites, and shared through social media.

Set up a video learning station on classroom computers. As your students are rotating through learning centers, one of the centers can be video relevant to the learning. The great thing about using Tagible: you don’t have to be concerned about students clicking on “related videos” on YouTube that aren’t yours.

As a school, create a professional development tool for your teachers. Create a professional development category with sub tags like: assessment, technology, philosophy, teaching strategies, common core, etc. Add videos and create channels that teachers can access for on-demand professional development.

Keep your school or classroom websites up-to-date with the latest video content without contacting your web provider or logging in to add new video. Create a category called “Home Page” and create a channel based on the category. Any time you tag any video with the “Home Page” category, the channel will be updated to include the new video automatically. If you’ve embedded that channel on the homepage of your website, all of the video is automatically included, no need to edit the website.

Tagible is a great way to foster a home-school connection. Record student work and share via a unique channel with families. This would be an incredible look inside your classroom for families who don’t get the opportunity to volunteer at school often.

At Anastasis, I’ve created categories for Field Trips, Special Events, Teams (classrooms), Inquiry Blocks, Explore (videos we like), Crave classes, School year, and Student Created. The great thing about the categories is that you can use them to quickly narrow down videos for a channel. For example, we could create a channel just for “Inquiry Blocks” in “2013-2014″ school year. Students and families can find exactly the videos that they are looking for all the time!

Are you an educational speaker? Create a channel of your presentations to share with others, and create a channel of videos that you used during your presentation. These can easily be shared at the end of a conference.

If you “flip” your classroom using video, Tagible is ideal. Make it easy for students to access video based on your own customized categories. Your flipped channel can be embedded directly on your blog/website and update automatically every time that you add a video. Create “review” channels that automatically collect videos from a unit or topic so that students can go through the channel to review and study. Invite your students to come up with categories that they would like to be able to search by.

Tips: Tagible is a brand new startup company. They are still working some bugs out of the system, and are regularly adding new features. In the bottom, right corner of the site you have the option to “Send Feedback” click on the portion of the site that you want to send feedback about and let them know about any bugs you find or features you would like to see.  You can try Tagible for free, they do have advanced features with monthly subscriptions. Be sure to mention Kelly Tenkely, they may be able to help you out with premium features. Tagible was started by one of Anastasis Academy’s board members and founding families. It has been incredible to watch this thing take shape! Just like the school, it started around this family’s kitchen table.

Want to see what a customized Tagible site looks like? Check out Team Anastasis here.

 

Rodan + Fields Consultant

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